Saturday, July 13, 2013


The GIA summer sale is still in progress.  Evidently it’s a success back in the USA but down here it’s a bust.  I’ll keep the promo going but it’s time to move on…


One of the industries I bought into while doing my “turn-around’ businesses, was the knife industry. I became pretty good at converting these small unprofitable factories into profit making concerns.  I’ve always had a love of knives; I made my first knife while on a fire look-out in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon; I was just eighteen. I took an old car spring and hand ground it (with a file) into a large butcher knife.  It took me all summer.

When I was operating these knife factories, I was the type of CEO that didn’t mind getting dirty.  Often I was sitting at a grinder or some other piece of equipment in my shop when my employees arrived.  I need to shorten this! Bottom line – I like knives and was very good at designing and making prototypes for the knife industry. Over the years, the knife industry has changed a great deal.  Not just a shift; a major upheaval! Like everything else manufactured, the industry moved to China.  The Chinese are the OEM for most major brands of knives sold around the world.


I was perusing a Chinese tools-for-sale site a few months back and discovered one of the knives I designed 28 years ago. The unit is a 100% copy except for the material.  The original frame was made from milled titanium and the blade was Damascus steel.  The blade on the Chinese unit is just plain; not serrated at all.  I modified the two I just purchased.  I believe in partial serration on all blades.  I can understand why the Chinese didn’t add that feature.  It’s expensive; requiring two or three additional steps in the manufacturing process.  I also purchased another knife I designed.  It’s an automatic. But, again, it doesn’t have the serrations on the blade. The thoughts behind an auto are: you need it out—open and cutting fast. If you don’t have the serrations on the base of the blade you won’t be cutting fast – like a seatbelt, parachute cord or a tangled rein.  The perception has always been – switchblades are for fighting.  Bull.  Switchblades were designed for paratroopers.  No one would purposely fight with a switchblade.  The hardness in the blade of the ‘auto’ is around 55 to 57Rc. The ‘Bulldog,’ the one in the photo above, has a properly hardened blade, too; around 57Rc.  The frame has been heat-treated as well in order for the ‘frame-lock’ to function properly.

The diamond sharpeners shown in the photo were a real find. I haven’t owned them long enough to test for longevity but I suspect from my initial usage they bring a lot of sharpness for the buck.  None of my knives have been properly sharpened since I arrived in Panama ten years ago.  Scissors and cheap kitchen knives I just threw away.  I had ordered several of the diamond sharpeners from e-bay and other sites.  They didn’t work properly. These do.  They have a flat surface that roughs the bevel and a round side that acts as a ‘steel’ to remove the burrs. Turn the unit around and you have a ‘rat tail’ for sharpening serrations. Now all my knives are sharp and my scissors, too. Next project a couple of machetes.   

Another item I found in China is a perfect cell phone for Panama.  It’s a dual SIM, quad band.  It’s 4G so it will take any of the data chips from the local carriers. Connecting to the internet through the cell towers is superior to looking for WIFI hotspots in Panama.  The extras are too long to list but it’s really handy to have TV capability when the power is out – that’s quite often. It’s also neat to have two cameras; one on the front and one in the back.  I use Skype a lot and this front camera is just right for Skype on the go!
All of these items required me to buy a ‘lot’ (multiple items).  For instance, I needed to buy six cell phones to obtain two.   Same way with the knives and sharpeners. I have these item for sale on my other site.  If you interested.  Check out ISTHMUS TRADER. 

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